Quick test helps prevent corrosion

Wednesday September 13, 2017 08:51

Corrosion can cause enormous damage to products or plants. Corrosion tests help to prevent this damage if they are carried out in time, but they require expertise, experience and the right equipment.

Each year, corrosion costs about €1 billion, for example because entire plants have to be shut down. This is why it is important to detect corrosion as early as possible, believes Jaap Hooijmans, corrosion specialist at ECN. ‘The problem is that traditional corrosion tests take a very long time, sometimes months. That’s unacceptable if you are testing a new production process, for example.’

Saving time
ECN has now developed a new test based on electrochemistry for early detection of corrosion. In ECN’s laboratories, state-of-the-art equipment is used to create an accelerated simulation of the conditions that cause corrosion. ‘This is highly specialised research and a lot of knowledge is required to interpret the data. Over the years, we have carried out hundreds of tests and developed various methods. Thanks to all this research, businesses which approach us with corrosion issues can usually count on getting direct advice,’ explains Hooijmans. 

They work with a multidisciplinary team with members ranging from mechanical engineers and process engineers to materials science experts. If corrosion can be detected or prevented at an early stage, this can save a business a lot of money. There is no unexpected production downtime for repairs or replacements and products do not have to be recalled because of corrosion problems early on.

Anticorrosion coating
An example is a Dutch company that plans to launch a new range of coatings for car parts. ECN tested the production line to guarantee that the parts will receive the same quality coating as the originals. ‘This would have taken months with traditional endurance tests. We conducted the tests within a week,’ says Hooijmans. ‘This reduced the development time of the new production line by months.’

Early detection is the key
Hooijmans has noticed a change in how corrosion is tackled. ‘Customers used to turn to ECN only after corrosion damage had been detected. We determined the cause, analysed the process and offered recommendations for improvements. Today, we are more often involved in analysing the production process before damage occurs, to prevent corrosion rather than remedy it. This allows us to extend the service life of products and equipment and save our customers a lot of money.’

More information
You can find more information about our services in the area of material life-cycle analysis, material selection and damage and corrosion testing on our Engineering & Materials expertise page

Category: Corporate, Engineering & materials